Want to start a long, endless argument among eBayer sellers? Just ask if it’s better to sell items in Auctions or Fixed Price/”Buy It Now”(BIN). It’s two entirely different strategies that every seller must build their business on.
If you’ve followed us, you know that we are in the BIN camp. Just read our manifesto. We have successfully made a full-time eBay business by having a large inventory, organized storage, and steady stream of sales each day. For the past four years, we’ve had reliable (and growing) income each month.
But Auctions have been the signature feature of eBay since the 1990’s. It separates eBay from every other major online site. Buyers love auctions because of the thrill of a good deal. Sellers love auctions because of the possibility of a bidding war and a surprising high-priced sale.
To settle the debate, we interview Tim Chapman, or “Mr Customer Service“. He’s been a full-time seller for the past 13 years and sells almost exclusively using Auctions. He has 2557 positive feedback in the last 12 months. You can’t argue with his numbers. He shares his experience and how he made Auctions work for him.
The Argument for “Buy It Now”
- With proper research, we can price items at the their highest competitive amount. Even if we have competition, eventually their items will sell and our item will be left. And buyers often will pay more for an item if it’s well photographed and described. Patience is our friend.
- More and more online buyers don’t want to wait and mess around with auctions. They want the item, they want a fair price and they want to have it shipped immediately.
- Adding “Make Offer” to a Fixed Price listing allows you to be flexible on the price. It’s like a reverse auction where we start with the highest price we want, but can choose if we want to take less.
- The BIN strategy demands a consistent large inventory so things will sell each day.
- Since our inventory is so large (3400 items), we could conceivably stop listing for three months and still expect consistent sales. This buffer is important to us in case we got sick or had to deal with an emergency.
The Argument for Auctions
- Tim lists everything he buys each week. 80% of his auctions sell so he has little need of storage. No unlisted piles!
- Auctions allow for bidding wars so Tim sells some items at incredible prices. (Check out his completed listings and decide if he’s selling at good prices.)
- Successful auctions depend on Tim knowing what to buy. After 13 years, he knows what items will sell well. He sounds like a great Scavenger. No buying junk.
- Tim has two days a week when he starts auctions, two days a week when he shops, and two days of shipping. A nicely divided week.
Ultimately, both strategies can work. From what Tim told us about his monthly fees, we’re making about the same income. Every successful seller has a tested process where items go in one end and money comes out the other. They can successfully sell for years without burnout because they know customers are a blessing and not a curse.
What do you think of Tim’s auction method?